The short answer? Yes.
The much longer and detailed answer? Read on!
We all know how buzzwords tend to come and go, especially in the technology and digital industries. Unless you’re deep into the design and development field yourself, user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) maybe a couple of those terms that you’ve heard thrown around. Usually, it’s by people who seem like they know what they’re talking about, but when you try to get further clarification, you get mixed definitions and confusing explanations.
UX design, in particular, is a term that has started gaining traction over the years—previously, the focus was simply user interface design. Everyone wanted to talk about how a product looked and felt, whether or not the buttons would be rounded or squared off, whether it was going to be black or blue. You know, the visual aspect. But that’s what about UX/UI design. UX is the why. And it’s the why of things that contribute to business growth most effectively.
UX design isn’t new, but it’s steadily gaining popularity as a concept
Recently (or not, depending on the circles you run in), the focus has shifted to UX research and design. For businesses that understand the value of good UX and customer experience, UX designers are a hot commodity today. The industry still considers visual design valuable, of course, but it’s taken a bit of a back-burner position.
The reason that we’re starting to focus so strongly on UX design is because of the problems that arise when you realize that quite a few people either don’t know how beneficial effective UX design can be for them, or they don’t understand the difference between the UX/UI design process and the past visual/web design one. Burying yourself too deeply in the technical aspect of a project’s design is a surefire recipe for disaster, but it happens all the time. It only takes one bad experience for a customer to become disillusioned—UX helps prevent that.
Realistically, good customer experience has always been a goal in a society where such emphasis is put on buying and selling goods and services. People are hard-wired to gravitate towards a pleasurable experience that causes the least amount of stress and confusion when using or buying a product. Our ancient ancestors might not have had smartphones, but the most effective merchants didn’t set up shops to be complicated to navigate. They modified what they could to make it efficient for their customers to do their shopping.
But what’s the value of UX?
All of this falls under the umbrella of UX, although nowadays it has less to do with the physical layout of a store, for example, and more to do with the customer’s brain. What makes a UX designer worth their weight in gold is their ability to delve into the psyche of a myriad of different customer demographics and map out a customer journey to get them from point A to point B in the fastest, easiest way possible. It’s important to reinstate empathy into the process—it’s the only way to create a product that people are excited to use. UX designers use their research and ability to understand human psychology to tackle problems before they even appear in a project, which is absolutely crucial and invaluable to a company.
It’s especially important for organizations that have tight budgets for projects—effective user experience design has been proven to reduce future support costs and rework that companies end up paying through the nose by almost 90%. That’s a huge margin. We can say this for a lot of fields, but for UX design, it’s definitely the truth—paying for user experience research and design upfront saves massive amounts in the long run.
Financial savings in development aside, efficient UX and good customer experience goes a long way to inspire loyalty among a business’s clients as well. The more comfortable someone is with the program or product they’re using, the longer they spend browsing and the more time and money they invest in it. Even if someone is pleased with the product they receive, if their experience wasn’t a good one, they’re not likely to recommend it to their friends.
If UX by itself is so great, does this mean I don’t need UI?
Definitely not! There isn’t really a distinct separation between two as a necessity—just having one isn’t a good idea. It’s not about replacing one with the other, it’s about linking them together. UX and UI are both important parts of the design and development process. They work in tandem to create a product that is visually appealing, easy to use, and provides the customer or user with confidence and happiness.